The Opera House, 13th Mar 2020
Reviewed by: Colin Morris
The last slapstick performance that I saw was The Suitcase Royale in 2014, which rendered me speechless with its inventive storyline, wisecracks, prat falls, and sound effects. Tonight, is no different. It’s a nigh lost artform; this is frantic mayhem writ large.
In many respects Släpstick is more of a tribute to musical theatre than pure slapstick, which would have run its course after several sketches. Over an hour and a half (and there wouldn’t have been a member of the audience who didn’t think they got their money’s worth), we were treated to a run of ageless classics from the roaring 20s right through to Queen.
We are told that the Släpstick company plays over 100 instruments, and it seemed as if they brought out every one for a tootle. Accordion, guitars, double bass, banjo, trombone, keyboards, percussion, pan flutes, saxophones of every key, and violin. I lost count after that.
It’s an honour and a privilege to be in the company of a company who keep the tradition of deadpan humour alive whilst remembering the music of the likes of Kurt Weill and Charlie Chaplin. Songs such as Smile, The Man I Love, Harvest Moon, O Sole Mio, are real highlights, especially Unforgettable, in which the singer can’t recall what comes after ‘Un’.
Did I mention Swan Lake? The black-and-white silent film The Lady with the Dog with the time-honoured dastardly villain? Then there is the fairground spiv who makes several appearances enticing the audience to throw the ball at cans, catch a magnetic fish (there was a massive cheer when a lady caught one), and shoot at a cymbal. Classic.
Two favourites then: Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head sung in German, and three sets of buskers – one group playing pan flutes that bought the house down – all playing different tunes but overcoming everything to play together.
It’s a performance of almost balletic proportions, so fluid is the movement that the obvious setting up of a skit is never seen.
Shows like this make me want to run away and join the circus.